IKEA Southeast Asia’s Culture and Values

HCLI Research
Published 13 November 2017

The IKEA brand is well known for its customer experience: walk through their warehouse-like stores, maybe eat an order of Swedish meatballs at the café, and then go home to build your newly purchased furniture. But what makes it a fun place to work? The culture.

IKEA’s culture: built on values

Our values guide our work and build our inclusive culture. Our values can be found in everything we do – from branding to communications to on-boarding co-workers. Our company culture is very much built on our core values – the more we live our values every day, the stronger our culture.

We believe that every individual has something valuable to offer. IKEA co-workers are down-to-earth, straight-forward people with a passion for home furnishing.

We believe we are strongest when we trust each other, pull in the same direction and have fun together.

We care for people and the planet. We constantly challenge ourselves and others to make more from less without compromising on quality. We are informal and practical. We are constantly looking for new and better ways forward. We like to question existing solutions, think in unconventional ways, experiment and dare to make mistakes. We believe giving and taking responsibility are ways to grow and develop. And we see leadership as an action, not a position.

How IKEA ensures diversity

We have seven guiding principles when it comes to recruiting – one of which is diversity. Diversity is especially important in a customer-facing business. We want our customers to recognise themselves in IKEA’s co-workers. Additionally, with a diverse group of co-workers, we are better able to understand the varying needs of different groups when developing a product or conducting outreach.

Our teams continue to be dynamic in terms of gender, ethnicity, age, social background, and experience. In Singapore, 51% of our co-workers are female and 49% are male across 26 nationalities (including Argentinean, Belgian, Japanese and Taiwanese). Out of which, 13% are below 24 years old; 22% are between 25 – 34 years old; 23% are between 35 – 44%; 21% are between 45 – 54%; and 20% are above the age of 55.

A local talent strategy

All IKEA companies work with the same values, and we all believe that a key to attracting, motivating, and retaining good people is giving them plenty of possibilities to grow personally and professionally – to learn on the job, in the classroom, in courses, from mentors and so on.

But our talent strategy is not developed globally. We at IKEA Southeast Asia have an HR team that includes learning and development, reward, recruitment, talent management and others. We work together with our business partners in commercial teams to develop a strategy that fits the realities of our markets (today, that’s Singapore, Malaysia and Thailand.) We use an established tool to conduct management and competence reviews each year and map succession plans. We then create a road map to secure local talents’ development, which includes leadership and mentorship programmes.

We attract and retain talent through mobility and development opportunities and a reward structure. This year, as an example, we have introduced a one-month paid paternity leave policy. This enables the new dads in our business to take a more active role in childcare and also supports working mothers. Our total-reward approach has helped IKEA Southeast Asia develop a reputation as one of the best retail companies to work for. We care about the well-being of our co-workers.

What career growth looks like at IKEA

Our main approach for developing talent who have ambition and a can-do attitude is 70:20:10. This is 10% classroom learning, 20% through mentoring and coaching, and 70% from hands-on experience through everyday doing and practicing.

One of IKEA’s development frameworks is the Learning Staircase, which has three steps:  ASPIRANT (learning): Learning what to do and how to do it!; IN THE ROLE (achieving): Knowing what to do, how to do it, when to do it-and doing it!; SENIORITY (performing& transforming): Knowing what to do to make a difference, how to do it, when to do it – and doing it!. With this approach, we work with functional knowledge, IKEA retail conceptual, and leadership training to climb the staircase and move co-workers up to senior-level roles.

An ideal co-worker is one that takes responsibility, is a fast learner, and is actively searching for learning and developing opportunities. We are fortunate to welcome many talented co-workers into the fold, who have progressed across different countries and jobs within IKEA globally.

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